Archive for November 2014

Paul Suffoletto recaps the week of NetJets’ threats to sue and fire members

Fellow Local 284 Members, 

On November 1, I — along with the Flight Attendant Executive Council, the Technicians and Related Groups Stewards and the Dispatcher Stewards — issued an announcement regarding the Teamsters’ plan to publicize the fact that NetJets is seeking to line its management’s and shareholders’ pockets and to subsidize the leisure and business travel of its wealthy customers by robbing you and your families of the wages, benefits and working conditions you have earned ten times over by making NetJets the successful company it is. That announcement titled, “We are only Getting Started . . .” can be found at http://netjetsflightattendants.com/?p=388   I once again thank you all for the overwhelming words of encouragement and support we have received in response to our plans and to the prior press release issued on October 27.

 

For those of you who have not had a chance to see the press release and my announcement about it sent out on October 28, I encourage you to do so at http://netjetsflightattendants.com/?p=385   In that press release, IBT Airline Division Director Capt. David Bourne was quoted as stating, ”We think the public will be very interested in what is happening at NetJets when we start to attach names and faces to some of the customers that stand to receive a subsidy for luxury travel at the expense of middle class Americans.” Apparently, the very mention of publicizing the names of it wealthy customers has sent the Company into panic mode, despite the fact that NetJets says on its own website that a “core negotiation requirement” is “to pass as much of the savings [from employee concessions] as practicable to Owners and potential Owners …”

 

First, in response to the press release, on October 29, NetJets General Counsel Colleen Nissl sent a letter to Capt. Bourne threatening to sue the Teamsters if we disclose the identity of NetJets’ customers to the public. NetJets also threatened to fire any employee who disclosed any information about its customers. The IBT responded to NetJets preposterous threats on November 3 in a letter from the IBT Legal Department. Both letters are attached to this announcement and can be found at http://netjetsflightattendants.com/?p=400 and http://netjetsflightattendants.com/?p=405   As the IBT explained to Ms. Nissl, no NetJets employees have provided the IBT with any “confidential” information concerning the identity of its customers. Rather, the identity of many of NetJets customers is a matter of public record and the IBT will use that information in any way it sees fit in order to combat NetJets’ greed and corporate arrogance.

 

Despite the clarity of the IBT’s response to Ms. Nissl, she reissued her threats in a second letter to the IBT on November 6 and then proceeded to threaten employees directly in an email she sent out on November 7. On November 10, the IBT once again responded to NetJets’ threats of suit and to the jobs of Teamsters, and once again explained that no NetJets employees have provided the IBT with any “confidential” information. The letter went on to state:

 

Therefore, any disciplinary action taken against our members as a result of the IBT’s decision to use their statements or any other publicly available information about your wealthy customers would clearly be motivated by anti-union animus. If one of our members is disciplined or loses their job because the IBT publishes information already in the public domain about your wealthy customers, we will respond aggressively in every legal and public forum available to us.

These letters can also be found at http://netjetsflightattendants.com/?p=410 and http://netjetsflightattendants.com/?p=414 

 

These threats from NetJets are exactly what we told you the Company would claim in response to the IBT’s announcement that it was taking the fight protecting your pay, benefits and working conditions public. As I previously explained, NetJets’ communications will be designed to make you turn on your Union and one another. They will try to pit employee against employee, craft against craft, union against union. The goal is to convince you to give up compensation, benefits and job protections. But as Ms. Nissl’s threats prove, NetJets management does not care about you or your family; instead, they care about their so-called bargaining “pillars” that ultimately take money from you and give it to their wealthy customers. I told you they would do the following and that is exactly what Ms. Nissl has done:

  • They will tell you the Union is trying to drive away customers.
  • They will tell you that what the Union is doing will only hurt employees in the long run.
  • They will try to make you feel guilty for protecting your own paycheck.
  • They will try to make you believe that a strong contract, affordable insurance and good pay makes NetJets uncompetitive.
  • They will tell you that the Union is an “outsider” who doesn’t understand the business.
  • They will tell you that senior management doesn’t dislike unions, only the Teamsters who are trying to hurt the business.
  • They will tell you that you are betraying the “owners” by saying you won’t subsidize them by paying more for insurance, cutting your own compensation and giving up job security.

Of course, none of this is true. Instead, Berkshire Hathaway just released NetJets’ 3rd quarter earnings stating that NetJets’ had revenue increases of $243 million or 8%. Apparently, none of you had anything to do with that. The fact is it is the Company that is threatening the business by attacking the very people who are responsible for its success, not your Union. What we will never do is apologize for opposing and exposing NetJets’ plan to cut your compensation, benefits and job security so the wealthiest people in the world can save money.

 

On a final note, I want to take this opportunity to respond directly to Ms. Nissl’s threats to my members’ jobs and, make no mistake about it, this is not business, it is personal.  I and Teamsters Local 284 will defend the jobs of every employee we represent, and we will not be bullied by anyone. If NetJets wants to take on the Teamsters, I say bring it on. As a Teamster for over 38 years, I know the 1.4 million other Teamsters have my back and they have yours. NetJets may try and bully its employees, but the Teamsters have dealt with bigger and badder companies than NetJets, and we will win this fight to ensure that the wages, benefits and working conditions you have earned are protected.

 

In Solidarity,

 

 

Paul Suffoletto

IBT responds to NetJets about suit and jobs of Teamsters

November 10, 2014

 

Colleen K. Nissl

Senior Vice President & Global General Counsel

NetJets

4111 Bridgeway Avenue

Columbus, OH 43219

 

Dear Ms. Nissl:

In response to your letter of last week, I repeat again that NetJets employees have not provided the IBT with information about your customers. However, there is a significant amount of public information concerning your customers and the IBT has every right to use it in response to NetJets’ stated goal of passing on the savings from concessions to “Owners and potential Owners.”

For example, NetJets Vice President Cory Valentine gave a public interview in which he stated that NetJets routinely flies the pets of your customers. He also stated that NetJets has on at least one occasion made provisions for an unaccompanied dog to relieve itself on grass that was placed on board the aircraft. I can assure you that IBT technicians and related employees, stock clerks, maintenance controllers and flight dispatchers have no interest in foregoing reasonable wage increases so these flights can be operated more cheaply for the benefit of your customers’ pets. NetJets made the information public and the IBT will not hesitate to use it as we see fit.

Similarly, on September 4, 2014, NetJets “retweeted” a message from customer Doug Stimeling. Mr. Stimeling operates an American Family Insurance business in Gilbert, Arizona. According to what NetJets republished on its own Twitter account, he does not like “annoying flight attendants.” Teamsters represented flight attendants will not pay more for their health insurance so that he can book a cheaper flight with NetJets. The IBT reserves the right to publicize information about your customer, a potential beneficiary of the concessions NetJets demands, in any form or fashion we deem appropriate.

NetJets presumably did not discharge Mr. Valentine for his disclosures nor has any NetJets employee lost their job as a result of the retweet mentioned above.

Therefore, any disciplinary action taken against our members as a result of the IBT’s decision to use their statements or any other publicly available information about your wealthy customers would clearly be motivated by anti-union animus. If one of our members is disciplined or loses their job because the IBT publishes information already in the public domain about your wealthy customers, we will respond aggressively in every legal and public forum available to us. Likewise, the IBT is aware of your recent communication to our members threatening disciplinary action, up to and including termination. The IBT reserves the right to publicize your threat and any future threats to retaliate against our members because of the IBT’s lawful activity.

Further, your claim that the IBT’s announced decision to publish information about your customers that is already in the public domain violates our status  quo obligations under the Railway Labor Act is absurd. Publication of such information is clearly protected by the First Amendment and cannot be restrained by a court. We also note that NetJets has maintained to date that it has no status quo obligations under the RLA with respect to flight dispatchers and maintenance controllers. If NetJets has changed its position, then your negotiators should communicate that fact directly to IBT and Local 284 negotiators. If we do not hear from NetJets on this point, we will assume that your invocation of the RLA’s status quo provisions is nothing more than posturing.

Finally, your talk about “competitive pricing” does not negate what NetJets stated on its own website about “[p]assing as much of the savings as practicable to Owners and potential Owners ….” The savings NetJets seeks comes from our members’ pay, benefits and working conditions. We intend to make sure that the public knows exactly who benefits and who loses from NetJets’ attack on middle class workers and their families.

Sincerely,

 

Nicolas Manicone, Esq.

Staff Attorney

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

 

cc: James P. Hoffa

Capt. David Bourne

Paul Suffoletto

NetJets strikes back at IBT about owner confidentiality

November 6, 2014

 

VIA FACSMILE 202-624-6884 & FEDERAL EXPRESS OVERNIGHT SERVICE

Nicolas Manicone, Esq.

Staff Counsel

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

25 Louisiana Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 2000I

 

Dear Mr. Manicone:

 

I have received your letter of November 3, 2014, We understand from your letter that the Intemational Brotherhood of Teamsters (“IBT”) fully intends to carry out the threat it made in its October 27, 2014 press release to disclose to the public confidential information about NetJets’ owners,      ·            ·

Let me once again emphasize that all NetJets’ employees are subject to strict confidentiality agreements and policies that prohibit discussion or disclosure of owner­ related information with any person outside of NetJets. This prohibition applies to disclosure of all owner-related information gained from NetJets’ sources regardless of whether that information may also be publicly available. Disclosure by an owner that he or she flies with NetJets does not relieve NetJets or its employees of the obligations to refrain from discussing or disclosing owner-related information.

NetJets will treat any breach of this prohibition as grounds for termination and pursue all appropriate legal action against any other individual or party including the IBT and its officers and employees, who induces such a breach or otherwise inappropriately obtains, confirms or misuses NetJets’ confidential owner-related information.

Further. it remains NetJets’ position that the threat of disclosure constitutes a breach of the IBT’s obligations under the Railway Labor Act (“RLA”) to exert every reasonable effort to reach an agreement with NetJets. Moreover, these threatened actions are a·thinly veiled attempt to bring NetJets’ owners into a dispute in which they have no role. The threatened action is also contrary to the RLA’s requirements regarding the scope of bargaining and improperly breaches the RLA’ s status quo requirement.

Finally, NetJets categorically rejects your characterization of NetJets’ attempt to maintain competitive pricing as a “subsidy” by NetJets employees to NetJets’ owners. It is in the interest of NetJets and its employees that pricing remain competitive so that NetJets can continue to maintain its current relationships with owners and attract new owners. Stating that NetJets intends to maintain competitive pricing on NetJets’ website does not “open the door” for IBT to improperly conclude that this results from “employee concessions” or to disclose owner-related confidential information 01·to involve secondary parties in the ongoing negotiations.

Accordingly, we reiterate our request that, if the IBT has obtained any owner-related information, you will ensure that all such information is immediately destroyed in whatever form it exists and confirm in writing that the IBT is not in possession of any owner-related information and will not disclose any owner-related information at any time. I expect to hear from you no later than November 10, 2014.

Very truly yours,

 

Colleen K. Nissl

cc: Paul Suffoletto

 

The IBT responds to NetJets preposterous threats

November 3, 2014

 

Colleen Nissl, Esq.

NetJets, Inc

Senior Vice President and General Counsel

4111 Bridgeway Avenue

Columbus, OH 43219

 

Dear Ms. Nissl:

I represent the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT). Your October 29, 2014

letter to IBT, Airline Division Director Capt. David Bourne was sent to me for review and response.

In your letter, you threaten to sue the IBT, its officers and employees if the IBT discloses the identity of NetJets customers to the public. As you well know, the identity of many of your customers is a matter of public record . No person provided the IBT, its officers or employees with any “confidential” information concerning the identity of your Company’s customers. If and when the IBT publishes any information related to NetJets customers, the IBT will only use public information that is not subject to any confidentiality agreement between NetJets and employees represented by the IBT. You can be certain that threats of litigation will not deter the IBT from doing exactly what Capt. Bourne said we would do in the press release referenced in your letter.

Furthermore, the IBT does not need to be reminded of its legal obligations under the Railway Labor Act. We have exerted every reasonable effort to reach agreements on behalf of employees in IBT represented crafts or classes and we will continue to do so. That being said, any suggestion by your Company that it is lawful for NetJets to publish on its website that one of its bargaining priorities is to pass on savings it extracts from employees to “Owners and potential Owners,” but at the same time any action by the IBT’s to publish the identity of these customers would violate the RLA would be preposterous. NetJets has opened the door by stating it will pass on savings from concessions to its customers. The IBT will decide when to close it.

Finally, the IBT will vigorously defend the employees we represent from any form of discrimination or retaliation by NetJets in response to the IBT’s decision to attach names and faces to the customers who stand to receive a subsidy from their paychecks under the Company’s proposals. NetJets is on notice. We will take every lawful measure and use every available forum available to defeat and publicize any and all unlawful acts taken against Teamsters at NetJets.

The IBT remains ready and willing to enter into fair and reasonable collective bargaining agreements on behalf of the employees we represent. We will know that NetJets shares our commitment when it abandons its failed plan to subsidize wealthy customers at the expense of hard-working middle -class workers ·and their families.

Sincerely,

 

Nicolas Manicone, Esq

Staff Counsel

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

 

cc:  James P. Hoffa

Capt. David Bourne

Paul Suffoletto

NetJets General Counsel Colleen Nissl threatens to sue the Teamsters

October 29, 2014

 

David Bourne,

Airline Division Director

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

25 Louisiana Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20001

 

Dear Mr. Bourne,

 

In a press release issued by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) on October 27, you stated that you plan to release confidential information about NetJets’ Owners, including their identities, to the public. Our employees, whom you represent, have strict confidentiality obligations and are prohibited from disclosing any information about our Owners, including their identities, to any third party-and this includes, but is not limited to, the IBT.

 

Please be advised that any employee who breaches this confidentiality obligation will be terminated from employment. NetJets will vigorously enforce all of its rights against any breaching employee . Moreover, if IBT misappropriates, uses, or discloses this confidential information, NetJets will take any and all steps necessary to protect its confidential information, and will hold liable each and every party (including any officer or employee of the IBT or any other entity involved) that induces any breach or who otherwise inappropriately obtains or misuses any confidential information of NetJets.

 

Finally, we feel compelled to remind you that while negotiations between NetJets and IBT are ongoing for the various NetJets employees IBT represents, IBT has an obligation to exert every reasonable effort to reach an agreement with NetJets. NetJets views disclosure-and even mere threats of disclosure-of its confidential information as a breach of this obligation under the Railway Labor Act. If IBT does not cease and desist in threatening to disclose NetJets’ confidential information, · NetJets will seek any and all available remedies under the RLA as well as any other state or federal causes of action that may apply. We expect that, if the IBT has obtained any Owner information, you will ensure that all such information is immediately destroyed in whatever form it exists and confirm in writing to me by Monday, November 3, 2014, that the IBT is not in possession of any confidential Owner information and will not disclose any Owner information at any time.

 

Very Truly Yours,

 

Colleen K. Nissl

 

cc: Paul Suffoletto

 

Non-Disciplinary Meeting Announcement

Fellow NetJets Flight Attendants,

 

Your FAEC has been contacted by several Flight Attendants who reported that they had been contacted by management and ordered to speak and/or meet with a Chief Flight Attendant or other company official about various matters, including sick calls, fatigue calls, scheduling issues, and others.  When these Flight Attendants requested Union representation at the meeting, they were told that the meeting was “non-disciplinary” and, therefore, they would not be allowed to have Union representation present.  Pilots called to such meetings have also been denied union representation.

 

The Company has clarified that when they tell a Flight Attendants or Pilots that a meeting is non-disciplinary, that means that there will be no discipline or the “potential” of discipline resulting from the meeting.  While this clarification is welcomed by the Union, we are still deeply disturbed by the Company’s denial of Union representation at such meetings when such representation has not been denied in the past. Indeed, it is a shame that the current NetJets’ management has chosen to take a new and confrontational approach with its own employees after so many years of cooperative union-management relations.  Unfortunately, absent a change in attitude from management at the top levels, we do not see this situation changing any time soon.

 

Accordingly, Teamsters Local 284 and your FAEC strongly suggests that members follow the following guidelines when ordered to speak with a Chief Flight Attendant or other Company official about any matter:

 

1.      Request Union representation immediately.

 

2.      If you are told this meeting is non-disciplinary, request that statement in writing (email) to be sent directly to you.

 

3.      If your request for Union representation and/or written confirmation of the non-disciplinary nature of the meeting is refused, explain your concerns and renew your requests.

 

4.      If your requests are further refused, follow the orders given to you.  Do not risk insubordination by refusing to comply. (Below we will discuss the concept of “obey now, grieve later” that Flight Attendants should follow to protect themselves.)

 

5.      Immediately document everything you can about the meeting.  This means you should document, in writing, who was at the meeting, when the meeting occurred, where the meeting occurred (e.g., at Bridgeway, on the phone, etc.), what was said at meeting, including the questions asked and answers given, and any other information about the meeting that you believe is important.  Please take your time and be as thorough as possible in documenting the meeting.

 

6.      Be calm, deliberate and professional at the meeting.  Do not allow yourself to be rattled nor confrontational.

 

7.      Immediately contact an FAEC member at the conclusion of the meeting and arrange to provide the Union with your documentation of the call.

 

8.      If you feel any sense of intimidation or retaliation concerning the call, be sure and document that and communicate it to the FAEC.

 

The reason Local 284 recommends that Flight Attendants comply with a direct order to meet with a Chief Flight Attendant or other Company official, even when Union representation has been denied, is to protect Flight Attendants from discipline for insubordination.  A general rule that arbitrators apply is that employees are expected to follow management’s instructions and directives.  If a Flight Attendant believes the instruction to be unfair or a violation of the contract, he or she may file a grievance at a later time.  This is known in the labor relations context as the “obey now, grieve later” principle.  Arbitrators have customarily held that failure to follow management directions can lead to the employee being charged with – and disciplined for – insubordination, which can sometimes be a serious offense depending upon circumstances.

 

Nonetheless, there are two recognized exceptions to the “obey now, grieve later” principle.  Flight Attendants may refuse a supervisor’s or manager’s order when they believe that following the order would either: 1) result in them doing something illegal; or 2) put them in “imminent danger” of injury or death.  Of course, if management takes disciplinary action after such a refusal, the Flight Attendant must prove that his or her belief about the unsafe condition was justified.  In the situation of simply meeting with management to answer questions about a sick call or some other matter, it would be difficult to prove that a refusal falls within one these exceptions.  That is why we recommend you follow the guidelines above.

 

Please remember that if management does not tell you that a meeting is “non-disciplinary,” then you have a right to Union representation at any meeting or questioning.  Specifically, Section 18.3 of your contract provides:

 

Any Flight Attendant required to be present at a Company hearing or meeting involving disciplinary action, or the possibility of disciplinary action, will be entitled to Union representation at the hearing or meeting if the Flight Attendant so elects. In order to effectuate the purpose of this subsection, the Company will promptly inform a Flight Attendant of the allegations or incident leading to the hearing or meeting.

 

Our instructions to Flight Attendants are clear:  If you believe discipline is a possibility and management does not specifically tell you that a meeting is non-disciplinary, ask for a Union representative, plain and simple.  Exercise your rights.

 

We want to assure all Flight Attendants that the Union has your back at all times.  Management’s attempt to intimidate Flight Attendants from exercising their contractual rights under the sick leave, medical leave or any sections of the CBA —or any other provision of the contract — will not work.

 

Remember, if you have any questions or concerns about your rights under the contract or about something the Company is doing, please contact the FAEC at faec@netjetsflightattendants.com or call an FAEC member.

 

In Solidarity,

 

The FAEC and Teamsters Local 284

We Are Only Getting Started…..

We Are Only Getting Started ...

Fellow Local 284 Members,
The feedback, words of encouragement and support we have received from Local 284 flight attendants, technicians, stock clerks, fuelers, maintenance controllers and flight dispatchers about our most recent announcement and press release has been very positive.   We appreciate it very much, but this is about you, not us.  The Teamsters are one hundred percent committed to defeating NetJets’ plan to use money from your paycheck to subsidize the leisure and business travel of its wealthy customers.  What we are doing – and what we are going to do in the future – is being done to protect you, your family and your paycheck from greed and corporate arrogance on a massive scale.
Our members work hard every day for NetJets.  The Company’s success is due in large part to employees just like you who provide front line customer and safety services.  In return, NetJets says on its own website that a “core negotiation requirement” is “to pass as much of the savings [from employee concessions] as practicable to Owners and potential Owners …”  It is obscene that management proposes to take money from you and pass it on to their super-rich customers.  Here is some food for thought (but don’t let it spoil your own appetite – it won’t be easy) that helps to put NetJets’ demands in perspective.
The Company’s “fractional owners” aren’t the 1% we hear so much about in the media.  They are more like the one-tenth of 1%.  ABC News reported that the incomes of the top 1% averaged $1.26 million in 2012 up from $466,302 in 1979.  By comparison, the top one-tenth of 1%, according to Forbes Magazine, had an average annual income in 2011 of approximately $27 million.  Big corporations are in the same boat, or yacht, as the case may be.  According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, profit margins at U.S. companies in 2013 were more than 57% higher than average over the past 60 years.  Big corporations have a lot of cash, too.  By some estimates, they were sitting on $1.5 trillion in 2013!  Think about these numbers when NetJets tells you they want you to pay more for your health insurance so they can pass on the savings to their “Owners and potential Owners.” Does it sound like the customers need your money?  NetJets says they do.
Compare the Company’s plan to subsidize their wealthy customers with how they treat some of their own employees who are bargaining for a first labor contract. NetJets has refused to give our professional flight dispatchers a pay raise for the past 4 years, but increased their insurance costs. Management won’t even cut them a profit sharing check while not hesitating to take a share of the profits for themselves. Subsidizing the global super-rich while hard working dispatchers lose ground is not only unjust, it is shameful and obscene.
If anyone at NetJets tells you wealthy customers need a concession or a subsidy from you, we strongly recommend that you tell them to feel free to send a holiday card to their favorite millionaire or a billionaire, with a nice check included, but make sure it’s their own money and not yours!  No Local 284 member should pay one penny more for health insurance, or give up a reasonable pay raise, or accept weakened job security protections so a Wall St. banker or CEO can take a cheaper trip on a luxury business jet.  You do enough for them already and they are more than capable of paying their own bills without any help from you and your family.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Local 284 are going to release a lot of additional information to you and the public in the coming weeks and months.  We are going to make sure that the public knows exactly what NetJets is trying to do to you.  As we said before, management will try to divide us by pitting co-worker against co-worker, craft against craft, and union against union.  Don’t take the bait.  You know what’s coming, but it’s worth repeating:

  • They will tell you the Union is trying to drive away customers.
  • They will tell you that what the Union is doing will only hurt employees in the long run.
  • They will try to make you feel guilty for protecting your own paycheck.
  • They will try to make you believe that a strong contract, affordable insurance and good pay makes NetJets uncompetitive.
  • They will tell you that the Union is an “outsider” who doesn’t understand the business.
  • They will tell you that senior management doesn’t dislike unions, only the Teamsters who are trying to hurt the business.
  • They will tell you that you are betraying the “owners” by saying you won’t subsidize them by paying more for insurance, cutting your own compensation and giving up job security.

It’s all false information designed to convince you give up pay, benefits and working conditions.  Remember – your Union negotiated the good contracts that exist today and helped make NetJets the largest and most profitable carrier in the industry.  Your good pay, good benefits and job security give you an incentive to provide world class service and peace of mind knowing that your job is secure.  It is the Company that is threatening the business by attacking the very people who are responsible for its success, not your Union.  It’s about time that the management of this Company starts thinking about how their attacks will drive good employees like you away from the Company!

Your Union will never apologize for opposing and exposing NetJets’ plan to cut your compensation, benefits and job security so the wealthiest people on Earth can save money when they take a vacation or a business trip on a luxury business jet.  And, you definitely shouldn’t apologize to anyone for saying “No!” to NetJets’ shameful demand that you subsidize their wealthy customers.

Stay strong and stay tuned.  There is more to come …

Fraternally,

 

Paul Suffoletto, President Teamsters Local 284

Flight Attendant Executive Council

Michael Zois

JoDelle Burwell

Jill Mawdsley

Darcey Jameson

Technicians and Related Groups Stewards

Chad Morrison

John Wolfe

Isaac Thielman

Flight Dispatchers

Fred Larkins

Paul Sheridan

NetJets To The Middle Class: Subsidize The Global Super-Rich

 

For Immediate Release                        Contact:  Paul Suffoletto, President

October 27, 2014                                                  Teamsters Local 284

                                                                               614-228-0727

 

NETJETS TO THE MIDDLE CLASS:

SUBSIDIZE THE GLOBAL SUPER-RICH

 

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK/B) NetJets, Inc. is demanding compensation and benefit cuts from more than 600 employees represented by the Teamsters Union as part of a plan to lower prices for its wealthy customers. The Columbus, Ohio-based business jet operator is owned by Warren Buffett’s holding company and provides business and leisure travel to the global super-rich.

 

“The middle class employees I represent will not agree to take pay or benefit cuts so a Wall Street banker can take a cheaper vacation on his private Gulfstream jet,” said Paul Suffoletto, President of Teamsters Local 284. The union represents NetJets flight attendants, aircraft mechanics, maintenance controllers, aircraft cleaners, aircraft fuelers, stock clerks and flight dispatchers.

 

A NetJets website states a “core negotiation requirement” is “to pass as much of the savings [from employee concessions] as practicable to owners and potential owners…” NetJets refers to its wealthy customers as “owners.”

 

NetJets’ decision to publicize its scheme to pass on savings from employee compensation and benefit cuts to the global super-rich is nothing more than an example of senior management’s extreme arrogance and demonstrates they are completely out touch with ordinary Americans.

 

“NetJets customers are the global one-tenth of one percent,” Suffoletto said.  “If management believes we are going to let them take money from the pay check of a middle class employee and use it to subsidize millionaires and multinational corporations, they are in for the fight of their lives.”

 

Contract negotiations on behalf of flight attendants have been underway for nearly four years. The federal government recently appointed a mediator. As a result of NetJets’ bargaining demands, little progress has been made in negotiations covering other unionized employees, including those who perform safety-sensitive functions for the company, such as aircraft maintenance and flight dispatching.

 

In September, NetJets announced that the government of China granted it permission to offer flight services to China’s business, military and ruling party elites.  When asked on Fox’s ‘First on Business’ about the relationship between NetJets and Chinese officials, NetJets CEO Jordan Hansell said, “They’ve been great for us.”

 

“If NetJets needs money for foreign expansion, it should ask its good friends in the government of the People’s Republic of China for a subsidy rather than demanding employees give up pay and benefits,” Suffoletto said.

 

“NetJets’ customers are some of the largest corporations and wealthiest people on the planet,” said Capt. David Bourne, Director of the Teamsters Airline Division. “We think the public will be very interested in what is happening at NetJets when we start to attach names and faces to some of the customers that stand to receive a subsidy for luxury travel at the expense of middle class Americans.”

 

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico including more than 80,000 workers in in every craft and class of the airline industry. Visit  www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.